Can you imagine taking your little one for a fun afternoon full of thrilling carnival rides and then in the same day, wondering if he or she is going to live through the night?
This is exactly what happened to Elizabeth Gilreath, an otherwise healthy, happy, long 11 year old when she was riding a spinning carnival ride at the Cinco De Mayo festival last week in Omaha, Nebraska. She slipped from her seat and was sucked into the ride’s machinery. So scary. And could happen to any one of us, really.
For several horrific minutes, the little girl was whipped around and her scalp was literally ripped from her body. She was rushed in critical condition to a hospital and since the incident has gone through several surgeries to reattach her scalp. The good news is that she is going to survive. But the sad, very unfortunate part is that doctors do not know if the scalp muscles will work and if she will ever see again. It is truly a tragedy.
The Nebraska Department of Labor has stated that there were no indications of why the ride malfunctioned. A bystander actually stopped the ride with his own hands as it was already slowing down and told the little girl that she would be ok. To which she replied, “Where’s my pretty hair?” The ride was obviously shut down for the remainder of the festival.
Got us thinking. Is it really safe to ride these rides? Everyday, it seems like people who are just out to have a little fun at the fair, the carnival, an amusement park…are so sadly injured and often die while trying to partake in just a little enjoyment. With summer fast approaching and many of planning trips to Disney or to water parks with our little ones…it just makes us think of the safety and then danger that we may be exposing them to while again just engaging in some family time at the fair.
Since the accident, Elizabeth’s mother has shared very hard to see photos and has been begging for prayers on social media. There are photos of Elizabeth (known as Lulu by her family) laying in a hospital bed with stitches holding her scalp in place.
Her mother recently said:
“Lulu is such an amazing and outgoing little girl,” her mother, Virginia Cooksey, wrote Sunday night on Facebook. “She has to make it through this; she wants to be a senator when she grows up. She loves to read and learn. She loves her family dearly.”
And during a news conference this week, her mother held up a hot-pink poster showing her Elizabeth’s post-surgery picture. She wanted others to see it as warning about the dangers of carnival rides.
What do you think about carnival rides? Will you be thinking twice before letting your kids on them after this? We know we will.